Sunday, February 19, 2012

Tough weekend for Merriam

Rensselaer Polytechnic junior goaltender Bryce Merriam was pulled after allowing just three goals in 25 minutes, 26 seconds on Saturday night in a 6-2 loss to Princeton.
In a 3-1 defeat to Quinnipiac on Friday night, which the Engineers could have easily won, Merriam gave up a game-tying goal (1-1) on a long shot from near the blue line by Reese Rolheiser.
Next night, Rob Kleebaum gave Princeton a 2-1 lead early in the second period on a shot from near just inside the top of the right circle. That broke a 1-1 tie and few minutes later, after another goal, RPI coach Seth Appert pulled Merriam. He later assured the media that the move was strictly short term.
"We have all the faith in the world in Bryce Merriam," Appert said. "It was not his best weekend. But Bryce has been a rock for us for large stretches of the season and I have all the faith in the world that he's going to come back to work (today) and he's going to be back to what he normally is."
More time for Josh, Smitty?: Assistant captain Justin Smith had played in only eight games all season prior to Saturday night.
Fellow senior Josh Rabbani had been scratched from seven of the past nine games.
They played because it was Senior Night. However, Smith was a physical force all night, delivering big hits on each shift. And he bowled right through a Princeton defender along the right side and fired a bullet to a wide-open Rabbani, who buried the scoring chance in the back of the Princeton net.
It was the first point of the season for both players, each of whom are among RPI's better body checkers.
Perhaps either or both play against Colgate and/or Cornell?
"We'd like to," Smith said, "but whatever the team needs to win, we'll do whatever. When we do get in there, we go hard. I love playing with him."
On being physical, Smith says, "I know my role. I try to hit as many guys as I can and hopefully get something done out there."
2012-13 schedule: Rensselaer has mailed next season's schedule to season-ticket holders but a change has been made.
When officials of the Great Lakes Invitational decided to move the prestigious Holiday tournament (in which RPI competed in 2009) from Joe Louis Arena outdoors to Comerica Park, they wanted a fourth Michigan team to join the other usual three -- Michigan, Michigan Tech and Michigan State. So, they asked St. Cloud State, which had been invited, to drop out in favor of Western Michigan.
Western had been on RPI's schedule for two games on Oct. 26-27.
St. Cloud State will not host the Engineers on those dates, one week after the Engineers play at Minnesota (Mankato) State.two
Appert's alma mater and the nation's current No. 1-ranked team, Ferris State, will open the Engineers' season with a pair of games at Houston Field House, Oct. 12-13.
After the two Minnesota trips, the Engineers play rival Union in both ECACH games, Black Friday at HFH on Friday, Nov. 2 and at Messa Rink the following night.
The Engineers make their first league trip, to Dartmouth and Harvard, the following weekend, then Mercyhurst of Atlantic Hockey comes to the Field House for a pair on Fri.-Sat., Nov. 16-17.
Princeton and Quinnipiac come to town Nov. 30, Dec. 1, then the Engineers go to Yale and Brown, Dec. 7-8.
The Engineers then end a 21-day layoff by hostign Sacred Heart on New Year's Eve (time TBA).
The New Year opens with two more non-leaguers, at Boston University on Friday, Jan. 4 and at New Hampshire on Sunday, the 6th.
The ECACH season resumes when RPI goes to Quinnipiac and Princeton (Jan. 11-12), then host Colgate and Cornell (Jan. 18-19).
The Engineers and Union Dutchmen collide in a non-leaguer on Jan. 26, at a site to be determined. It's hoped the Times Union Center will be that site.
Big Red Freakout! Night will likely be Sat., Feb. 16 against Yale, although it could be early, on Feb. 2 against Dartmouth.
The regular season ends at home against Clarkson and St. Lawrence March 1-2.
Bergin to decide later: Senior defenseman and RPI captain has a red-shirt year of NCAA eligibility remaining. He'll address that option at the end of the season.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Engineers must focus on results

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey coach Seth Appert says his team must continue to be "process focused."
I don't often disagree with Appert; this is one of those times.
Against Quinnipiac tonight and Princeton on Saturday night, the Engineers must be "results focused."
In short, they must win both games, get at least three points.
They are at home and lost tight games to both teams while on the road.
Quinnipiac has more offensive skill than do the Engineers but RPI is a better defensive team. Rensselaer is at least as good of a team as Princeton, probably better overall.
To move up in the ECAC Hockey standings, the Engineers need to assert themselves and win both these games.
'They all remember': Appert said this after Quinnipiac's Yuri Bourahevic scored the game-winning goal with 1.6 seconds remaining on Dec. 3:
"Great example of you have to play out every shift...maybe we had some guys anticipating the horn being blown."
Appert says he doesn't think much about the end of that game -- so did several players -- but he also said, "I'm still(peed off) about it."
Perhaps the Engineers can exact a bit more motivation tonight with the memory of the end of that game.
RPI chat today: We'll have a chit-chat about RPI hockey herein at 4:30 today at Join in.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute hockey fans are anxious, wondering if center Miloš Bubela will arrive on campus this coming September, or in 2013.
The talented 19-year old member of the Slovakian national team has RPI fans wanting.
Bubela won't turn 20 until six weeks before the 2012-13 season but he'll be able to step in to the RPI lineup nonetheless and will team with Riley Bourbonnais to improve the Engineers overall and especially at center.
They could allow coach Seth Appert to play both junior (to-be) Brock Higgs and sophomore Jacob Laliberte at left wing, if he chooses.
The question of when Bubela will join the Engineers comes down to one factor; will he clear the NCAA clearing house by this summer.
The chances, insiders say, are better than even.
Bubela is currently playing for former RPI assistant coach Jim Montgomery at Dubuque of the United States Hockey League.
He started a bit slowly but now has two goals, eight assists in 11 games.
With left winger Mike Zalewski and Bourbonnais, even without Bubela, the RPI offensive productivity should rise next season.
Winger Mark Miller will be a good addition to a checking line.
By the way, Zalewski turned 20 years old on Tuesday, and celebrated with an assist for his Vernon Vipers. He's been tearing up the British Columbia Hockey League with 31 goals, 31 assists in 50 games.
Harvard-Yale rating tops: Of the handful of college hockey games the new NBC Sports Net has televised (Dartmouth-RPI was one of them), the highest-rated was Harvard-Yale. The age-old rivals outdrew Michigan-Notre Dame.
So, Appert asks, "why can't our league (ECAC Hockey) get a national TV package?
The other major conferences, the WCHA, CCHA and Hockey East all have fairly attractive TV deals.
Appert wonders why the ECACH can't get a deal at least for live coverage of the league's playoffs semifinals and championship game.
It's a good question.
"Yeah, we're better": How much better of a team is RPI than back then, Appert was asked on Wednesday.
“We’re trying to find out every day,” he said. “We believe we’re better; I know we’re better. Since January 1, I think we’ve been a pretty good hockey team. We’re trying to work to become a real good hockey team.”
Appert said the Engineers were dominant as Dartmouth, even though their winning score was just 2-1. He told the players, though, “that can’t be the best game we’ve played all year. We can’t look back this spring, or summer and say, ‘our best game was on Feb. 11 vs. Dartmouth.”
Instead, what Appert and the team hopes they’ll be able to say weeks from now is, “that was a game that we were real good and then we took that game and we built on it and we kept getting better.”
At 5-10-3, the Engineers are tied for second place in the 12-team ECACH. They are 8-19-3 overall.
Just a little over one month ago, after a 5-1 loss at Union on Jan. 14, Rensselaer had a 1-8-1 league record and were 4-17-1 overall.
Appert was asked if he could have conceived back then that the Engineers would still have a shot at a top eight finish in the league, and thus, a home-ice berth in the preliminary round of the playoffs, have an outside shot at sixth place, and even a mathematical -- yet virtually impossible – shot at a top-four finish and the preliminary-round bye that goes with it.
“Probably not,” he said. “But we haven’t talked about it, and we’re not going to. We’ve taken the (ECACH) standings down (on Jan. 1) and our whole focus, what we tried to do during the holidays was get down to the issues at hand and take away the excuses from our guys because we were making too many of them; and really get focused in on what we can control and get more buy-in (from players) and more belief.
“We took the standings down,” Appert continued, “we said, ‘stop worrying about (them), stop looking at our record, stop looking at your stats, stop feeling sorry for yourself, and just start working every day to become a better player and help our team become a better team.’ And now that we’ve inched back into the conversation for those (key standings spots), we’re not going to throw all that away and say, ‘okay, let’s start talking about how important these two points are.’’’
Even though the Engineers are 4-2-2 over their past eight games, Appert says the Engineers are still “a process-focused team.”
“That stays right now,” he said. “We’re not going to talk about how important it is to win, we’re not going to talk about how many points we need to get home ice … I want to win on Friday night, but we’re not going to sit there and dwell on how important it is to the standings because (doing so) hasn’t led to success for this team.”
Proud Bulldog: Appert's alma mater, Ferris State, has climbed to the No. 1 spot in the USCHO poll for the first time in program history.
Appert didn't try to hide his exuberance.
"It's a great day to be a Bulldog; a great week to be a Bulldog," he said. "We're all incredibly proud."
Appert said he texted Ferris head coach Bob Daniels with congrats early in the week.
"It's an incredible accomplishment for that program from where they were and it's an incredible testament to those guys (Daniels and his staff) and what they've built there. It's a small, Division II school that in the late-80s almost dropped hockey and Bob Daniels comes in -- we were his first class -- and instilled belief and pride in that program. And to see what they've done over the past 10 years, 20 years really but especially the past 10. I couldn't be more pumped up."
Join in: We'll discuss RPI hockey via CoverItLive on the Troy Record website from 6-7 p.m. on Thursday.
Go to the Record website for details.